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Starbelly in the Castro

Starbelly has become a recent favorite go-to for brunch and dinner in our neighborhood. I like the pretty, woody interior (and patio out back) and the menu that is approachable and affordable with enough fine touches to make it feel special. In this neighborhood, I like Frances, but can't afford it on a regular basis, so Starbelly has filled in as an equivalent, I suppose, to Nopa if you lived in the Western Addition--nice enough for guests, affordable enough to grab a bite for an impromptu night out.

For brunch I tried and liked the chilaquiles with house-made chorizo. For dinner, we've enjoyed the wild mushroom pizza with gruyere and thick roasted onions and the plain margherita. Both salads I've ordered were excellent. I have a friend who swears by the hamburger for lunch, but mine, which I ordered medium-rare, came overcooked, and I didn't have the time to ask for another. I admit that my heart belongs to the Zuni burger, so that may be a lost cause.

Of particular note is the "All ages" cocktail list, which includes a house-made ginger honey brew on tap, lavender honey lemonade and two tea "cocktails": one with jasmine gree, lemon and sage; the other with darjeeling, lime, basil and egg white. It's been a nice spot to visit with a pregnant friend who doesn't want wine or water.

They take reservations, but we've had an easy time walking in for brunch, and a not-too-long wait for dinner a couple times--there's a no-reservations bar area, and I think a few tables are reserved for walk-ins.

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Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Nopa
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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  1. Starbelly

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    Starbelly
    3583 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

    1. What style are the chilaquiles?

      Ginger honey brew sounds great.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Yeah, I tried that and liked the ginger honey brew--I'm a cocktail person, but don't like their alcoholic cocktail list--they served beer and wine mixtures only (on purpose, I read, because they want to discourage a pick-up scene at the restaurant, so they opted out of liquor).

        The chilaquiles were different than others that I've tried (at Pastores, Mijita and that stand at the Ferry Building)--both the egg and the sausage were crumbled and distributed over the chips, so that it was a texture experience. Delicious to me (though Pastores are still my favorite, but it's tough for me to get out there), but maybe not if you wanted to slice open a yolk or eat big warm lumps of scrambled egg.

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        Pastores Restaurant
        3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Mijita
        1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111

        1. re: pane

          I don't want eggs or chips in my chilaquiles :) Sounds like it's the frying pan version. Thanks.

          1. re: Windy

            You don't want chips in your chilaquiles?

            What other version is there?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Chilaquiles should be made with leftover tortillas cut into strips, not taking a shortcut with prefab chips.

              They are also best (in my opinion) baked so that the tortillas are both soggy and crispy, like a bread pudding. But that's hard for restaurants because it means making a batch rather than an order at a time.

              Pastores is as close as I've found to Mexico City, where they were served with chicken in tomatillo salsa.
              http://www.supercook.org/cookbook/chi...

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              Pastores Restaurant
              3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: Windy

                If the tortillas aren't fried to order, I'd call the dish nachos.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Yes, exactly. But a lot of kitchens around here make scrambled eggs with chips and Mexican spices.

                  BTW Pane, have you tried the chilaquiles at Chilango? They are similar to your Starbelly picture. Lots of chorizo and red sauce.

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                  Chilango
                  235 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                  Starbelly
                  3583 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                  1. re: Windy

                    I haven't, but I love their tortilla soup when I'm sick. Though I suppose that's another post ;)

            2. re: Windy

              ha! problem solved! these are not for you.

              for someone who might be inclined to try them and is still curious, here's a pic i found on someone's flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeywan/...

        2. My only complaint is that they use Mr. Espresso coffee and call it good coffee. Otherwise, it is a very nice brunch indeed.

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          1. I really, strongly disliked their french fries the night I went there. They were so salty there were almost inedible.